Army Can Better Use Its Soldiers Trained in Critical Shortage Occupations

NSIAD-84-17: Published: Mar 20, 1984. Publicly Released: Mar 20, 1984.

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GAO reviewed manpower utilization in the Army to determine: (1) the extent to which soldiers trained in critical shortage occupations are working in areas outside of their occupations; (2) why these soldiers are doing so; and (3) whether opportunities exist to reduce such utilization practices.

At the installations visited, GAO found that from 13 to 25 percent of the soldiers were performing tasks outside of their prime skill areas. This included personnel who had received cash bonuses for being trained in shortage occupations. Circumstances leading to this situation included: (1) the assignment of soldiers with skills for which installations had no authorization or for which they had more soldiers than were authorized or needed; (2) delays in processing security clearances for soldiers with intelligence specialties; and (3) mismatches between equipment and personnel. In addition, GAO found that local commanders chose to use personnel in areas outside of their occupations because they: (1) considered other tasks more important; (2) believed that it was not necessary for soldiers to work full time in their occupations to maintain their skills; and (3) needed personnel to do garrison work for which no personnel were authorized. Such practices are possible because the Army has not identified Army-wide critical shortages or set an Army-wide policy for appropriate manpower utilization, and local commanders have broad discretionary authority with regard to manpower utilization.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: By December 1983, actions to eliminate security clearance problems reduced background investigation time to an average of 80 to 90 days. DOD and the Army will continue to monitor this situation. Planned improvements in personnel assignment systems and equipment distribution systems should be significantly reduce assignment mismatches.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should examine and resolve those assignment, security clearance, and equipment-related problems that cause some soldiers to work outside of their occupations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army distributed a list of shortages for fiscal year 1984 in an Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel memo dated October 1983. Lists of enlistments and selective reenlistment bonus skills are updated periodically and are available to commanders.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should develop an Army-wide listing of critical shortage occupations and issue policy guidance to all commanders on the discretionary use of soldiers with such skills outside of their occupations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Revised DOD Instruction 1304.22, April 1983, added provisions regarding the use of bonus recipients. The Secretary of the Army must approve assignments beyond 90 days. In addition, an annual reporting requirement has been established.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should ensure compliance by commanders, within the limits of their discretionary authority, to Army policy requiring the utilization of bonus recipients in their prime occupations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army believes that existing directives provide sufficient guidance to correct the problems noted. The Army made this a special subject for 1985 Inspector General inspections and will continue to monitor its progress.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should examine whether additional Army-wide policy should be established to limit the discretionary authority of commanders to utilize noncommissioned officers in select critical shortage occupations for tasks outside of their prime occupations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

 

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